The Monument Quilt

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The Monument Quilt is a new project from FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, a creative activist collective that uses the intersection of art and action to garner media attention and ultimately dismantle rape culture in society. The project hopes to provide awareness and support for survivors or sexual assault by piecing together tangible stories and experiences to create a public space for healing.

In the past, FORCE has projected survivor’s stories on the US Capitol Building, floated a Styrofoam cut-out of a survivor’s poem in the Reflecting Pool, posed as Victoria’s Secret launching a consent-based underwear line, and posed as Playboy releasing a consent-themed campus rape prevention guide. With their latest project, they are collecting thousands of stories across the country to establish The Monument Quilt for victims of sexual assault and harassment. With our help, they hope to quilt a lasting message in front of the National Mall that reads, “You are not alone.” FORCE explains on their website:

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Educate Yourself While Educating Others

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AliceI started training as a Community Educator during my first semester of my first year of college. Going into the first meeting, I was pretty nervous — the room was filled with folks that were older than me as well as a couple of fellow college students. But we bonded quickly, and they became some of the people who helped me survive my first semester of school.

The college environment can be incredibly stressful for women and their allies in the fight against sexual assault. It’s easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed with the number of students who perpetuate oppressive ideas. The best way to combat this feeling is to put that anger and frustration into direct action — working with the Center is one of the best ways to do that.

Trainings are long, but filled with love and purpose. The time commitment is significant but so deeply worth it, and you really can’t have a bond with your fellow trainees without putting in that time.

Working with the Center gave me the chance to learn about rape culture in a safe environment. I wasn’t being graded, I had many opportunities to ask questions about the cause and effect of oppression, and I learned how to exercise self-care.

It was also a great chance for me, as a Women’s & Gender Studies major, to get a chance to see what day-to-day life is like while working for a direct service nonprofit. When you think of a rape crisis center, you tend to imagine somewhere cold and depressing, with lots of crying women and weird smells. But the Center radiates love and warmth. Every person there takes their job very seriously — but there’s also lots of joy and laughter in the room.

In the education trainings, we’re taught how to keep a conversation moving, dig deep, and avoid common conversational pitfalls. These skills come in handy in so many areas of life, and it’s great to learn them in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

I loved having the chance to connect with other students as well as adults from around the community. It’s so nice to get a break from the campus bubble and be around folks who are old enough to give you advice but are not, you know… your parents. It’s like getting to hang out with your cool queer aunts/uncles and help prevent sexual assault. Does it get any better than that?

Alice Wilder majors in Women’s & Gender Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has supported the Center in a number of capacities, including Start Strong Educator and Social Media Intern.

Safe Touch Educator training begins in August 2014, and Start Strong Educator training will begin in September. Find out more about our volunteer programs and how to apply at ocrcc.org/ce


Punk Cuts 2014

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Alex Stewart receives her third punk cut at the annual Punk Cuts to End Rape 2014.

If there is one thing that has remained consistent about me over the years, it’s that I am always concocting some controversial haircut (kindly referred to as my “five-year hair plan”). Last month marked the third year I participated in Punk Cuts to End Rape for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, and I couldn’t have been more excited to shear my mane for the summer. As the Administrative Services Coordinator for the Center, I feel it is both an honor and a privilege to sport a “punk cut” as I greet newcomers to the office.

Watching the Punk Cuts fundraiser advance, and foster more attention from the community, has left me inspired by the generosity and support of the area. What started off as a disordered house party, with haphazard haircuts, has transformed in merely two years, to a crowd-packed gathering, in a public venue brimming with supporters, professional hairstylists, a craft bazaar, and a total of seventeen shaved heads!

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Survivor, Not Victim

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survivor not victimIf you have never stopped and pondered the importance of language in our society and how it ultimately reflects, shapes, and reinforces cultural perceptions, take a look at Sherryl Kleinman’s “Why Sexist Language Matters.” It is a fairly quick and accessible read that argues the somewhat obvious but not always stated notion that language affects how we think about any number of subjects.

So when it comes to attaching a label and identifying a group of people like those who have been sexually assaulted or raped, it goes unstated that we have to be careful and deliberate. The term affects how we possibly view the people impacted by violence, our relationship to them, and our potential actions and the resulting consequences.

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Capstone Team Assesses Education Programs

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The UNC Capstone Team: L-R: Trang Tran, Ada Nwadugbo, Maryka Lier, Sarah Cooper, and Deena Fulton

The UNC Capstone Team:
L-R: Trang Tran, Ada Nwadugbo, Maryka Lier, Sarah Cooper, and Deena Fulton

As a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) student at UNC-Chapel Hill, I had the great pleasure of being able to work with the Center, a team of my peers, and UNC faculty advisors to evaluate some of the Center’s school-based prevention programs. Instead of a thesis, the MPH program requires students to do year-long Capstone projects with local organizations, and five of us chose to work with the Center.

I was excited to be able to do my Capstone project on sexual violence prevention because I’d been interested in the field for a long time, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with a rape crisis center before. I was also really excited about the project itself: we evaluated the fourth and fifth grade Safe Touch programs, which focus on bystander intervention and cyber- and sexual bullying, as well as the seventh grade Start Strong program, which focuses on addressing gender stereotypes, differentiating between flirting and sexual harassment, and bystander intervention.

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Feminist Friday

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bidenIt’s like my main man Joe Biden knew it was my last Feminist Friday and came out with an awesome new website and PSA for the White House’s “1 is 2 Many” campaign, which is all about sexual assault on college campuses. Love you, Joe.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month just came to a close, and it’s a great time to look back at our events from the Shout Out to Cupcakes & Cocktails to Hollaback’s awesome screenprinting events. With these events we combined the catharsis of storytelling with self-care and direct action. When you work in violence prevention, it can seem strange to have a month for awareness when it feels hard not to be aware of interpersonal violence. But I think it’s helpful to think of SAAM as a time to heal and bring our passion for this work into parts of our community where awareness isn’t so high. It felt so gratifying to see people stopping in their tracks to read the shirts on the clothesline project, and I heard many of my friends say that they went out of their way to walk past the shirts on their way to class.

If you’re busy wrapping up the end of the school year, this is a great work/study playlist that’s instrumental but still really energizing.

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Lessons from the #EndRapeNC Tweet Up

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If you missed our #EndRapeNC Twitter discussion, here are five points that came up during our discussion! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @OCRCC to stay in the loop for future conversations!

1. People of color face very different circumstances when it comes to reporting and getting services, especially when they are undocumented.

1A

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Feminist Friday

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GOTI’m digging this Game of Thrones-themed study playlist - it’s all music from the show! Like the Game of Thrones, finals week often feels like a “win or die” situation.

This week’s Game of Thrones was deeply disturbing – the executive producers decided to take a consensual sex scene in the books and make it a rape scene on the show. Like, they took what was already a pretty deeply messed up situation (a brother and sister having sex in a church which holds the body of their dead son) and made it even more disturbing. I’m mad, the internet is mad, what they did to these characters and to the show is not okay.

Watch this awesome video “The Minority Experience at UNC” which includes student testimony on the challenges that minority students face at UNC.

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Feminist Friday

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All my feminist friends have been making these fun little dolls lately and it is so strangely relaxing and wonderful. Seriously, revert back to your twelve-year-old self and play dress up for fifteen minutes.

The New York Times recently published an exposé of Florida State University’s failure to pursue justice for a survivor of rape. It’s a long read but well worth your time. It focuses on how colleges tend to protect their star athletes (the alleged rapist, Jameis Winson, is FSU’s star football player) rather than care for survivors. According to the article, the lead detective for the rape case didn’t write a report on the crime until two months after the crime was reported. According to the New York Times there was “virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.”

I have a deep love for Sansa Stark, the long suffering eldest Stark daughter. This is partly because so many seem to hate her, calling her “whiny” or “boring.” Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa recently gave an interview (it’s filled with spoilers, so watch out!) and responds to the hate many have for her character:

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Feminist Friday

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SirenHave you read the newest issue of Siren yet? Grab a copy on newstands around UNC’s campus or read a digital copy here!

We at the OCRCC have your weekend planned out for you!

  • If you love Beyoncé and feminist activism you absolutely cannot miss Project Dinah’s I’m A Survivor benefit concert. All proceeds benefit the Center.
  • This weekend is the UNITY conference! UNC students get in for free, and there’s a drag show at the Chapel Hill Underground tonight at 10:00.
  • Then on Saturday attend the Latino Greek Cookout which is benefiting the Latino Scholar’s Initiative.

 

UNC’s own Bob Pleasants recently published a piece on Huffington Post on how to approach interpersonal violence on college campuses.

We conclude that the answer is not one of either/or, it’s one of both/and. We can’t end the -isms in a world that tolerates sexual assault, but we’ll never end sexual assault — a physical and psychological assertion of power — in a world filled with imbalances based on gender, sexuality and other systems of power. It’s not a complicated point: we can’t end rape until we change the culture that enables and supports rape. And we can’t change this culture without a community-based approach.

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